Marijuana Your Greencard and Waivers

I smoked pot and didn’t get caught, do I need a waiver?

Today, we will discuss the effect of smoking marijuana for a person who is otherwise eligible for adjustment of status (the process of getting your greencard while in the U.S.)

When you apply for a greencard you will be asked on the application whether you have “knowingly committed any drug related offense for which you have NOT been arrested.” In other words, the application asks whether you have been involved in a drug crime for which you were not caught. If you have ever smoked marijuana, knowing that it was illegal, then the answer to that question is yes.

At the end of your greencard application you will need to sign, under penalty of perjury, that all of the information in your application is true and correct. By signing your greencard application you are swearing that everything in the application is the truth.

Thankfully, one option is to apply for a waiver for having experimented with marijuana. Generally, the waiver will require you to demonstrate extreme and unusual hardship to a qualifying relative. A qualifying relative is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, child, or parent. There are many ways to show hardship, for example, emotional and/or financial. You do not need to show extreme and unusual hardship (though you will still need a waiver) if it has been more than 15 years since your marijuana use or if you are a VAWA self petitioner.

Note that in deciding your waiver, immigration will weigh the negatives in your case (your marijuana usage) again the positives (for example, family ties, your job, paying taxes, educational accomplishments, community ties, etc.) Since you are being upfront about your criminality you will appear more favorably before immigration than had you been caught.

It is very important to always be honest in all of your immigration matters. Lying to the U.S. Immigration Service can get you in bigger trouble than the issue you were lying about. If the lie is discovered, you are in double trouble – not only the original problem about which you lied, but also in trouble for lying. Lying in and of itself will require a waiver.

If you have an issue you’d like to discuss with us, you can do so confidentially by calling us at (916) 613 – 3553. It is best to be well informed so that you don’t find yourself in even more trouble later. We have the experience and knowledge to advise you and guide you in all of your immigration matters.

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